Cape Fear Jewish community prepares for Rosh Hashanah

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) – The Cape Fear Jewish community is preparing for one of the most celebrated holidays of the Jewish faith.

Rosh Hashanah marks the first and second days of the Jewish new year, it’s the first of the High Holy Days which starts a 10-day period of soul searching and self-examination.

Rabbi Chaya Bender is the spiritual leader of B’nai Israel Congregation in Wilmington.

“As Jews are sitting in the pews for the next ten, twelve, fifteen hours, however long they are in services over the next weeks, what went right, what went wrong, the interaction between friends, interactions between family members or interaction with self that were not proud of,” she said. “And we try to figure out, what can I do new in the next year?”

Normally, this period is for thinking about behavior, asking for forgiveness, and pledging a positive change within the year.

The Jewish New Year starts in September or Early October.

“In some ways, it’s like a spiritual spring cleaning, where we have this time set aside to really think about ourselves in a very deep way,” said Bender.

According to Bender, the goal is to try to make yourself better each year.

The holiday is also a time to bond with one another, something the Zeldine family is looking forward to.

“Coming together means a lot, especially with one of our kids being off at college, just all coming back together to celebrate,” said Andrew Zeldine.

“Being together as a family and looking back at the previous year and looking forward to the next together is really meaningful,” said Nikki Zeldine.

Their family spearheads an annual food drive on Rosh Hashanah.

“Self-reflection, helping others, it’s a way of renewing ourselves, especially the food drive is helping others it’s a way of renewing ourselves,” said Edie Zeldine.

“It’s a time to come back with your community and kind of get that fresh start,” said Sophie Zeldine.

The B’nai Israel Congregation was busy with people getting ready for the big holiday.

Certain foods are prepared such as apples and bread dipped in honey – it represents a sweet new year to come.

Challah bread is also a tradition it’s baked round – a symbol of the cyclical nature of the year.

According to Bender, it is a day of reflection but give yourself a little grace.

“This is a lot of work, a lot of heavy work of the soul the high holiday season, so just to be gentle with yourself,” said Bender.

Rosh Hashanah culminates in Yom Kippur.

A special high holiday prayer book with translations is available to follow along for all services.

A link to the B’nai Israel Congregation website can be found by clicking here.

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